Published: Fri, September 07, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Turkey calls for ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, Russia opposes

Turkey calls for ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, Russia opposes

As the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran meet in Tehran on Friday to try and find a solution to the seven-year Syrian conflict, Ankara - which is wary about an attempt by Bashar al-Assad's forces to retake the last rebel bastion of Idlib - has drawn up a plan to avert an assault, Turkey's Daily Sabah reported.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday urged Damascus against launching a battle to retake Idlib, the last major chunk of Syria still in opposition hands. United Nations officials warned this week of a humanitarian catastrophe if a military offensive in Idlib moves forward.

De Mistura said there were about 10,000 fighters with UN-recognized terrorist organizations now in Idlib.

The source said there were assurances to the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that the operations would begin within days after Russian Federation began air strikes on the province.

Erdogan will also hold bilateral talks with Putin and Rouhani.

"Turkey's aim in Idlib has been to avoid a new, destabilizing conflict on its border".

North-western Idlib province and the surrounding areas are home to about 3 million people - almost half of them civilians displaced from other parts of Syria. Those included a workshop used by the militants for construction of drones, a warehouse of explosives as well as a storehouse, where they kept their MANPADs.

Speaking at a three-way summit in Tehran with his Iranian and Russian counterparts - both major allies of the Syrian government - Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that an attack on Idlib would result in a massacre and a disaster.

Turkey has limited sway over the jihadists who control an estimated 60 percent of the province, but it backs other rebel groups and has 12 military "observation points" across the area.

According to the UN, Idlib is home to about 2.9 million civilians, including 1.4 million displaced from other parts of Syria.

Hossein Jaberi Ansari, a senior aide in the Foreign Ministry, said the presidents would seek a compromise and that "Turkey and Iran are sufficiently mature politically to facilitate such a compromise".

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory said at least nine civilians, including five children from the same family, were killed in Russian raids Tuesday, while 10 more people were wounded.

Idlib is dominated by the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, led by the former Al-Qaeda branch in Syria.

Assad's government has been massing thousands of troops in preparation for an assault.

Jeffrey said the taking a tougher stance and will not tolerate an all-out attack on the region.

"In the past 18 months I have stood on this floor twice, promising that the United States would respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria", she said.

The Treasury Department said it was targeting four individuals and five entities for facilitating weapons and fuel transfers to the Assad government, some of whom the US accuses of being linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Sources said he cautioned that he didn't want to hear in October that the military hadn't been able to fully defeat ISIS and needed to stay.

Erdogan has warned against such a catastrophic outcome, and has much at stake in efforts to prevent it at the Tehran summit.

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